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Marcia Jolley's picture

Sun hot spot

Any ideas to de-emphasize the setting sun in this photo. It is too bright. Would appreciate both before the exposure and after the exposure thoughts. Thank you in advance.

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6 Comments

Phillip Breske's picture

Well, it IS the sun, after all, so it's going to be the brightest thing in the image no matter what you do. If you try to get its exposure in your camera's capture ability, the rest of the image will likely be so dark that you won't be able to recover shadow detail. Instead of trying to "de-emphasize" the sun, just bracket a few exposures and choose the one that works best for the overall image, or use post-processing to merge the exposures into a balanced image (HDR). Personally, I think HDR is overused and (usually) used poorly, so I avoid it.

Another option, if you really want to avoid the sun overpowering the rest of the photo, is to eliminate it. Wait a few minutes for the sun to set below the horizon and you should be better able to boost the exposure values to the point you can retrieve shadows and still save the highlights with one exposure.

Marcia Jolley's picture

I agree with waiting a little longer for the shot. Got too excited! Thank you for your help.

Alan Brown's picture

Hi Maria. I agree with Philip on this, but would not worry about blowing the highlights.
I agree with comments I have heard in the past that our eyes expect absolute brightness from the sun and it is only we photographers that feel the need to exhibit detail.

I would try bringing up the shadows a little to provide detail in the foreground, and increase contrast/saturation/whites to emphasize the detail in that amazing sky.

Marcia Jolley's picture

The brightness does not bother me so much, it is the yellow ring around the sun that does not print out well. Thank you for your help!

Chris Jablonski's picture

Nice one! Waiting till after sunset would give a basically rather different image. Now that you mention it, Marcia, I agree about the yellow ring, although this wasn't clear to me at first.

Only a photographer would notice this, but I think you have some "moustache" lens distortion from your wide-range zoom: the horizon is curved upward in the middle, and reverses towards the edges. Unless your software corrects for this lens automatically, it is not as easily corrected as simple concave or convex curvature. Of course, there may really be a slight plateau in the middle of the landscape. You were there!

I've adjusted both in this edit, the yellow by lowering saturation in a local radial gradient (a fuzzy oval centred on the sun), and fine tuning by reducing the image's overall yellow with colour EQ with overall saturation and white balance adjustments. I've gone a bit too far, but it illustrates what you can do after. I used "liquify'("warp" in PS, I think) to manually bend the horizon, playing God!

I also did what Alan suggested in his last paragraph as I agree with him, and finally added a mild vignette.

Marcia Jolley's picture

Nice! The fuzzy oval and tweak of saturation does soften the ragged edges of the sun. I agree with Alan, as well. I am encouraged to play some more with this photo! Thank you.